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Food for Thought
Posted: August 26, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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Foods are classified into groups based on how they affect the metabolism: hot or warm, neutral, and cool or cold. Some foods are drying while some are moistening. For example melon, tomatoes and cucumbers are considered cooling and calming—or yin—whereas hot peppers, beef and alcohol have heating and stimulating—or yang—properties. Honey, egg whites and carrots are considered neutral. See Food by Qi for more examples.
In the East, eating seasonally is encouraged, and foods are classified into five main tastes: sour, bitter, sweet, pungent and salty. The Chinese believe a balanced diet is made up from all five tastes, and the ideal proportion of each of the five tastes is based upon the person’s individual needs, the time of year and the climate associated with their location. Some foods contain more than one taste with several benefits, such as hawthorn, which has sweet, sour and warm properties and helps the liver, spleen and stomach. Imbalances of any of the elements can lead to both physical and emotional symptoms.
In the spa, too much heat in the body may be recognized externally as a face or cheeks that are overly flushed, have inflammation or acne, or may have itchy red bumps on the skin. Excess heat in the body appears emotionally as a short temper, irritability, aggression and restlessness. Stress, hot weather, excessive or prolonged humidity, coffee, alcohol, spicy foods, beef and other heat-producing foods or lifestyle choices can all contribute to too much heat, or “fire,” in the body, as well.
Included in this category is “wet fire” and “dry fire,” both displaying similar symptoms, but they are produced from different sources and require vastly different treatments. The body can also produce excess fire from being overloaded with toxins. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and its food-healing principles are a complex system that can bring about profound changes in the health of the entire body. See Fantastic Foods for more food benefits.
Environmental and occupational toxins
People absorb environmental toxins through food, water, the skin and even into the lungs through breathing, and the spa environment can be filled with environmental toxins as well. The Environmental Protection Agency states, “Air within homes and other buildings can be more seriously polluted than the outdoor air in even the largest and most industrialized cities. Other research indicates that people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors. Thus, for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors than outdoors.”